Pakistanis were found to be among the top 10 nationalities to opt for asylum in European countries in the year 2015, revealed Dr Severine Minot while speaking at a seminar, on Wednesday, held to discuss the refugee crisis staring the European Union (EU) in the face in the aftermath of the war in Syria.
Author and academician associated with the Habib University, Dr Severine while speaking at the University of Karachi’s Area Study Centre for Europe (ASCE), on Refugee crisis as a challenge to European integration: social, political and security issues, claimed that Europe already received around 1.4 million ‘legitimate’ (legally admitted) immigrants in the years 2010-13.
“With a war in Syria, insurgencies on-going in Afghanistan and Iraq, and economic pressures on Kosovo and Albania, number of asylum seekers has steadily increased in Europe,” she said.
Appreciating Germany’s policy to open its borders for refugees, she said it was a brave political move which demonstrated humanitarian values and was an effective implementation of human rights by a state.
Currently pursuing a doctorate in South Asian Studies, Dora Gunsberger spoke on Europe’s migration crisis from the perspective of its effects on Hungary – a Schengen border state.
She referred to the Dublin Convention which implied that refugees were to be registered in the countries which they first arrived.
According to her, Hungary served as a transit country for refugees but was not their favourite destination.
She cited a billboard put up in Hungary which read, “Welcome to Hungary. We have jobs in London” to further explain her point of view. However, she did remark that Hungary itself was not as willing to accommodate refugees as the EU required.
Presiding over the session Najmuddin Sheikh while summing up the proceedings of the session stated that statistics revealed that not all the terrorists caught were refugees. “Crimes were carried out by both disgruntled people among local population as well as immigrants.”
He referred to assimilation and integration as viable practices in order to bridge gaps between the host country, the migrants and refugees. “Integration did not necessarily mean being coerced into changing one’s beliefs or value system,” he added.
Commenting on the Middle East turmoil, he said that it was the demons of the past that had come to life. “It was the patronisation of dictatorial regimes that resulted in the present crisis in Middle East.”
He also regretted that most of the refugees were absorbed by Europe and not the oil-rich Gulf states.
ASCE Director Prof Dr Uzma Shujaat dilated upon the challenges posed by the influx of refugees from war torn regions to Europe and the possible backlash of the open-door policy.
She spoke of how the Syrian refugee crisis sucked regional powers into a geopolitical vortex and the chaos that resulted in governments being pitted against each other.
According to Prof Uzma there were flaws in EU’s approach to providing asylum to refugees.
The influx of over one million refugees as well as immigrants in Europe caused a border clampdown which resulted as a blow to the Schengen zone.
“Europe is at this point in the middle of figuring out as to how to respond to the crisis collectively, and how to deal with social, political and security issues related with it.”
Prof Dr Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, a political scientist and a teacher of International Relations, spoke of the refugee crisis in view of the diversities it had created for Europe.
He cited reasons contributing to the displacement of people either triggered by a cogent external threat, or by problems related to race, nationality, political orientation, economic prospects which usually leads people to seek better opportunities elsewhere.
He referred to the Second World War in the context of it creating a massive internal as well as external displacement of masses, and added that, “Anti-colonial discourse raged during the 1960s and 1970s, which led to independence movements and resulted in widespread migrations.” However, he added that migrations triggered by a political movement were different than labour migrations.”
A senior research fellow at the ASCE, Sajjad Ahmed, while speaking on refugee crisis and the consequent security challenges highlighted that the 1951 Geneva Convention called for protecting the rights of all refugees, yet it was not binding upon the member states to abide by the convention.
He opined that the refugee crisis needed to be looked at in tandem with economic immigration. “Till September 2015, 32, 000 Pakistanis had filed asylum applications in the EU; the largest number of applications was received by Hungary, followed by Germany, whereas till the end of October around 50, 000 Pakistanis had reached the EU to seek asylum.”
The migration commissioner of the EU warned for tough actions against Pakistanis, he stated.
Ahmed while referring to the growing challenges posed by the Salafites said they were attempting to recruit refugees, although refugees per se were not a security threat to the any of the states.
“The date of criminal activities when studies revealed that out of 58 arrested suspects, only three had a refugee background,” he claimed.
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